A first time Grey Cup championship featuring these two squads with the Blue Bombers, first in the West, advancing after knocking off the B.C. Lions in the divisional final. The Als, meanwhile, were second in the East and pulled off a massive upset of the Toronto Argonauts, 16-2, in the Eastern Final after knocking off the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Eastern Semi-Final.
The Blue Bombers are looking to avenge last year’s loss to Toronto in the Grey Cup and capture their third championship in four years. Montreal’s last win came in 2010.
Kickoff: Sunday, 5:00 p.m. CT; Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Ont.
The forecast: A mix of sun and cloud during the day with a high of 4C. Clear overnight with a low of -4C. Wind from the southwest 21 km/h gusting to 33.
TV: TSN; RDS
U.S. and international live streaming: https://www.cfl.ca/plus
Radio: CJOB 680
Last meeting: The Blue Bombers knocked off the Alouettes 47-17 on August 24th at IG Field. The two clubs also met on Canada Day in Montreal, with Winnipeg emerging with a 17-3 win. The Blue Bombers are 13-5 in their last 18 meetings in the regular season vs. Montreal.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 5W; Montreal: 7W.
Odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by 8.5 points. For more betting information, click here.
- Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros is 73-40 in his career as a starter, including 12-4 this year. He is 8-7 lifetime in games against Montreal and 2-2 as a starter in the Grey Cup (including 2014 with Hamilton).
- Montreal rolls with Cody Fajardo, who has a career won-lost record of 36-24 including 9-7 this year. He is 2-8 lifetime vs. Winnipeg. This is his first career Grey Cup start.
Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 96-62 and has guided his team to a 29-7 record over the last two regular seasons. O’Shea’s 96 wins as Blue Bombers head coach now ranks him second all-time in franchise history behind only Bud Grant (102).
Montreal: Jason Maas is 50-40 in his career as a head coach, including 11-7 this year with the Alouettes.
Blue Bomber Roster Notes
The Blue Bombers have made just one roster adjustment for the 110th Grey Cup from the lineup that took to the field in the Western Final win over B.C., but it does come with an asterisk.
Coming on: is all-star receiver Dalton Schoen, although he has a ‘GTD’ designation game-time decision. That means the club has up until 30 minutes to decide if he can go. Schoen has been out since the club’s win over B.C. in October, missing three games, including last week’s win.
Coming off is Greg McCrae.
The notable sidebar to this: middle linebacker Adam Bighill, who was carted off the field last week with a calf injury, is also listed as GTD.
Blue Bomber Spotlight: QB Zach Collaros
Football regularly fixates on quarterback play and that’s especially so in the postseason and in championship games. Collaros is making his fourth straight start in the Grey Cup – a league record.
He has two touchdowns against three interceptions in his three starts for Winnipeg but was also working on a bad wheel in last year’s championship. O’Shea when asked about Collaros on Friday:
“Best in the league. Tremendous leader on our team. Has the right demeanor. I would say most leaders do. The guys can look to him and they see how consistent and steady he is, and they can follow that.
“There’s a great combination of that fire where he wants to smash people, but he’s calm enough to take in all the information and get it done. Unflappable.”
To read about ‘Fiery Zach’ – the uber-competitive Collaros – and how his teammates love that side of him, click here.
Scouting the Alouettes
The Alouettes are one of the CFL’s feel-good stories in 2023, having gone from a team without an owner and free agents fleeing in February to a second-place finish in the East and then the upset of the Argos in the division final.
They carry a seven-game win streak into the Grey Cup and in last week’s win over Toronto scored TDs via pass, rush, interception, and kickoff returns – a fact which showcases the team’s balance.
Offensively they are led by Fajardo, who threw for 4,108 yards this year with a league high 71.6 completion percentage with 14 TDs against 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 341 yards – third amongst QBs behind Ottawa’s Dustin Crum (741) and Tre Ford of Edmonton (622). William Stanback led the ground game with 800 yards in 14 games. Receiver Austin Mack had a sensational first season in the CFL, pulling in 78 passes for 1,154 yards and four TDs.
Montreal’s defence is their backbone and their unit finished second to Winnipeg in many of the important statistical categories, including points allowed (21.8), opponent passing yards (239.1) and opponent touchdowns (37). They scored two Pick-6s in their 47-17 loss to Winnipeg in August. The additions of DE Shawn Lemon and LB Darnell Sankey bolstered the unit, with Lemon registering a team best nine sacks in 13 games and Sankey finishing with 31 tackles in six games. All-star safety Marc-Antoine DeQuoy led the team with five interceptions, including two taken to the house.
On specials, Montreal’s placekicker David Cote had a completion percentage of 75 on his field-goal attempts, lowest in the CFL while punter Joseph Zema is one of the best and sported a 38.7-yard net – tops in the league. Both Chandler Worthy and James Letcher, Jr. are dangerous return threats, too.
The CFL Players’ Association announced its 2023 All-Star Team on Friday, and the list includes six Blue Bombers: RB Brady Oliveira, slotback Dalton Schoen, tackles Jermarcus Hardrick and Stanley Bryant, linebacker Adam Bighill and cornerback Demerio Houston.
10 Grey Cup Facts
1 – The Blue Bombers are the fourth club to have reached four straight Grey Cups and the first since Edmonton’s dynasty of 1978-82. The others: Regina (1928-32) and Hamilton (1961-65).
2 – Five of the last seven Grey Cups have seen the winner come back from trailing in the fourth quarter
3 – Winnipeg set a new club record with four straight Grey Cup appearances after advancing to three straight games three times in franchise history (1937-39), 1945-47), (1957-59).
4 – Collaros needs just 65 yards passing on Sunday to become just the 11thquarterback to have 1,000 yards in the Grey Cups. That list: Anthony Calvillo (2,470), Ricky Ray (1,512), Bo Levi Mitchell (1,431), Doug Flutie (1,420), Danny McManus (1,357), Bernie Faloney (1,304), Henry Burris (1,281), Sam Etcheverry (1,224), Damon Allen (1,154), Ron Lancaster (1,026) and Warren Moon (994).
5 – Brady Oliveira led the CFL with seven 100-yard games this year. The last time a RB rushed for over 100 in the Grey Cup was Andrew Harris with the Blue Bombers (134) in 2019. Over time, 23 players have rushed for 100-plus yards in a Grey Cup, including Mike Pringle and Robert Drummond, who each did it twice.
6 – Sergio Castillo went 5-for-5 in his last Grey Cup game, the Blue Bombers win in 2021. Only five kickers in Grey Cup history finished with a 100 percent average on five or more kicks in a single championship, including Castillo. The others Paul McCallum (B.C, 6-for-6 in 2006); Paul Osbaldiston (Ham., 6-for-6 in 1986); Sandro DeAngelis (Cal. 5-for-5, 2008), Mike Vanderjagt (Tor. 5-for-5 in 1996).
7 – Janarion Grant is the all-time leader in total kick return yards in Grey Cup history with 450 – 241 yards on punt returns, 164 on kickoff returns and 45 on missed field goal returns. His 268 total return yards in last year’s Grey Cup is also a record.
8 – The Blue Bombers five-game win streak heading into the Grey Cup is their longest since taking a seven-game run into the 1993 game.
9 – Winnipeg’s nine QB sacks in last week’s Western Final tied the CFL playoff record, first set by Hamilton in 1985 and matched by the Blue Bombers in 1992.
10 – FYI: 11 of the last 15 Grey Cup games have been decided in the final three minutes.